A Grassroots Experience with Amaranth
June 8, 2015
Pete Noll, Executive Director, Puente a la Salud Comunitaria
As a new member of the Alliance to End Hunger, I am eager to share with you a first glance into our work, primarily focused in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Puente a la Salud Comunitaria was founded twelve years ago by two pioneers in the fields of food sustainability and organizational development, Katherine Lorenz and Kate Seely. Since then, we have concentrated on the pseudocereal amaranth as an entry point for lasting community development.
Rural family farmers work hard to produce half of the world’s food yet make up 75 percent of the world’s poor (FAO, 2014). We have designed our not-for-profit model to focus on the farming, consumption, and commercialization of amaranth, a highly nutritious crop native to Mexico. We are dedicated to improving family nutrition, building self-esteem, and creating economic opportunities for rural families.
By acting on the ideas of farmer families and working together to grow, eat, and commercialize nutritious, locally harvested foods, we are contributing to a change in the food system thus cultivating lasting benefits in the communities that we serve.
We believe that when a critical mass participates in our programs at the community level, as shown in our Diffusion of Innovation Theory Model, our programs and related solutions will spread rapidly and organically. That is one of many reasons why we work to promote local leadership at all levels.
Our primary objective over the next five years is to cultivate community impact in the areas of agriculture, food consumption, and economic stimulus by promoting vital amaranth systems vis-à-vis community self-organization and strategic alliances. We carry out this approach through the following programs and initiatives:
The small-scale production of amaranth with agro-ecological methods offers farmer families nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits. By increasing nutrition education and access to healthy, local foods, marginalized farmer families improve their nutrition and overall health.
Farmer families are able to sell their harvest at a significantly higher profit by organizing microenterprises and regional networks with increased access to markets and value added technology. The program aims to develop social, cultural, and economic benefits for participants.
Recognizing the complexity in the current food system, Puente seeks out strategic partners to advance the programmatic work and positively influence public policy related to priority areas.
Through targeted grassroots communications campaigns, we amplify awareness of the potential of amaranth at various levels of the food system. We are confident that we can learn a lot from the Alliance to End Hunger’s membership organizations, and hope to develop effective strategies to foster collective action in support of a sustainable food system.
Puente is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this strategic alliance. We look forward to supporting the mission and strategy of the Alliance to End Hunger. You are welcome to contact me at any time to discuss our work and how best we can, together, maximize impact.